E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) is in full force this week at the LA Convention Center, where video game developers from around the world have come to show off their new projects. Earlier today, I hit the show floor to check out some of the industry's latest games firsthand.
But one booth that immediately caught my attention was 3 Queens, an all female-owned gaming development and publishing company that just debuted their very first game, "Creeping with the Crudashians." Taking on the predominantly male gaming field, the company's co-founders Cara Florence, Nicole Young and Maureen Coffey-Edri created their match-three mobile game to be a parody of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." Not only does it take aim at the Reality TV Royal Family, but it also critiques celebrity vanity in general.
While at the convention, I spoke with the proverbial "3 Queens" and discussed what it was like for them to run their own game company, develop a video game (in a surprisingly fast 11-and-a-half weeks!) and show it off at E3.
"We're from South Carolina, and there aren't a lot of game development houses out there," Young told me. "There's certainly not a lot of women in technology in the United States as a whole, so we really wanted to take that entire area in the Southeast and own it. So this is just the first of many [endeavors]."
Prior to "Crudashians," the trio developed another application together called WeConsent2 and wanted to combine their various skills to create a mobile game. "All three of us had unique talents to bring to it," Coffey-Edri said, "so it was sort of dividing and playing to our strengths and working together."
As it happened, Coffey-Edri was a judge and came from a background in law, while Young and Florence had experience in game design and business.
"The original application we were doing together, WeConsent, was an affirmative consent application -- because I see a lot of issues in sexual assault," Coffey-Edri explained. "From my perspective, the best way to reach people is mobile technology. If I want to make an impact, I can talk to young people and defendants, but they aren't seeing me. So it's a way to communicate."
She continued, "Gaming, to me, is very interesting and a way to communicate lessons and social wars, things like that. That's why I was very interested in this. So I teamed up with these two very bright young ladies."
In a little under three months, 3 Queens created "Creeping with the Crudashians" and landed their very own booth at E3 this year. "It actually wasn't our original intent to come to E3," Florence noted. "What happened was, we were on the phone with the phenomenal marketing group, and she mentioned E3, and we were like, 'Wait a second, you know what? We have really talented people, we can find really talented people to grow really quickly.' So we said, 'We can do this.'"
And "do this" they did. Just in their first day at E3, 3 Queens' booth was booming with visitors. Even during our interview, a long line had formed behind me -- attendees waiting to learn more about "Crudashians" -- which was my queue to wrap things up. However, before I left, I asked Young, Florence and Coffey-Edri what it was like to see their booth get so much attention at the con, especially in such a male-dominated space.
"I think it's really inspiring, especially for other women, to see this," Florence said. "I think that women and young girls have a different perception of gaming or even anything in technology or software-related. I think the perception is off, and if they could see more and be exposed to these types of events or opportunities and even see other women, like us, who are actually being successful at these types of opportunities, that would really inspire them. I wish that they could see that more."
"We did it," Young added. "In 11-and-a-half weeks, we developed a game, we developed a booth -- I mean, we have a line right now. [Laughs] So it's pretty awesome, and it's nice to be able to feel the success."
When asked what they would say to other young women wanting to break into the video game industry, Coffey-Edri offered three simple words of encouragement: "Just do it."
"Just do it, and be open to collaboration with other women too," Young said. "Don't be intimidated by the male dominance of this industry."
"Creeping with the Crudashians" officially launches this July and will be available to both iOS and Android users.